starring María Mercedes Coroy, Margarita Kénefic, Sabrina De La Hoz, Julio Diaz
written by Jayro Bustamante & Lisandro Sánchez
directed by Jayro Bustamante
by Walter Chaw In a film comprising indelible compositions, one in particular stands out in Jayro Bustamante's doom-laden La Llorona. It's not a supernatural tableau, although the film is thick with them, nor is it one from a devastating war-crimes trial where an old Guatemalan general, Enrique Monteverde (Julio Diaz), stands accused of unspeakable atrocities visited upon Mayan women during a horrific, early-'80s pogrom against them. No, the moment that lingers for me is a brief one where a new maid in the General's household, Alma (María Mercedes Coroy), kneels beside a giant backyard pool and fishes protest flyers out of the water as a frog swims laconically past. The sequence itself captures the mild surreality of a picture set against a sociopolitical reckoning with an ugly period in Guatemala's history. The General and his family rattle around in a mansion, surrounded by tokens of their affluence. Our first night with them, long-suffering wife Carmen (Margarita Kénefic) is mistaken for a ghost and shot at by the great man, and their daughter Natalia (Sabrina De La Hoz), a doctor only now coming to learn of the crimes of which her father's accused, also discovers that his facilities are, perhaps greatly, diminished.